About the Refuge


The Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1993 to protect the remnants of a quickly vanishing ecosystem, comprised of bottomland hardwood forests that meander along the banks of the Deep Fork River.

The Deep Fork River is nearly as deep as it is wide and spans 34 river miles on the refuge. The bottomland hardwood forests the river supports are part of an extensive habitat dependent upon waters that drain into the Mississippi River watershed. The Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge currently encompasses 10,000 acres; a patchwork of privately held tracts bordering the public lands of the refuge. 

In the spring, visitors may see the brightly colored prothonotary warbler, painted bunting, or scarlet tanager. In the summer, the neotropical migrating songbirds are raising their chicks in all levels of the forest -- from the canopy to the forest floor. Watch for turkey strutting and displaying their tail feathers during the spring and enjoy the prairie wildflowers, and pollinators dependent upon them, during the spring and summer seasons. Be on the lookout for fox and grey squirrels gathering acorns and nuts for the long winter during the fall. During the winter, American bald eagles can be seen perched on tree branches along the Deep Fork River, a symbol of our nation that was almost lost completely not too many years ago.

With its proximity to the Deep Fork River, the refuge is subject to seasonal flooding. This flooding results in superb conditions for waterfowl and other birds traversing the Central Flyway including mallard, blue-winged teal, northern shoveler, pintail, and resident wood ducks. In addition, this flooding provides anglers with excellent fishing opportunities. Wildlife is diverse on the refuge. The refuge provides a glimpse of a diminishing ecosystem extremely important to a variety of wildlife and plant species. Historically, the vast bottomland hardwood ecosystem of eastern Oklahoma encompassed an estimated 2.2 million acres. By the early 1980s, roughly 85 percent of the floodplain forests had been cleared. The 10,000-acre Deep Fork River National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect these amazing natural resources.

Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge is one of more than 550 national wildlife refuges in the United States administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it is managed for the benefit of wildlife and you.